Easy Ways to Save on Your Next Vacation

On average, Americans spent $1,978 on summer vacations last year—up 10 percent from the year before—according to a recent travel study.¹ 

Vacations give us a chance to explore new things, bond with our families, and take a much-needed break from work. However, if going away puts us into debt, the stress that comes from taking that time off might not be worth the advantages. To make sure your vacation doesn't stress you out financially, here are some easy ways to save some cash while traveling.


Ways to save!


Housing

Where you plan to stay while you’re traveling will be one of the larger costs of your trip.

  • Group travel can get you great accommodations at a discounted rate.

  • Traveling off-season can save you on housing costs

  • Check out places like Airbnb or VRBO. These options are often larger than hotel rooms, which make sharing more practical. They also tend to come with kitchens, where at least some meals can be cooked, rather than purchased. You might also find pools or hot tubs, which could provide hours of entertainment.

Transportation

Airfare, train, or gas costs are just a few items to consider. Also, budget for car rentals and public transportation.

  • Traveling to places during the off-season could afford you some pretty drastic discounts.

  • Public transportation like the subway or a bus will likely be the most affordable option, but if you need to rent a car plan to take advantage of discounts through associations and advance reservation.  If you need to take a cab, check with locals to get a fair estimate of a reasonable fare for your travel destination.

  • Renting a bike or other local transportation could be another fun and affordable option—and remember: walking is free!

Food

Eating out can take quite a bite out of your travel budget.

  • Plan to make one meal each day. 

  • Stay at a hotel or B&B that includes a free breakfast.

  • If there is a restaurant you really want to try, consider having lunch there instead of dinner. Lunch menus may offer slightly different options than dinner ones, but there’s a high likelihood they will be less expensive.

  • Ask a local where they dine! You’ll get an authentic meal and probably save some cash.

Entertainment

How you plan to spend your days will be a large part of your budget. Beach vacations will likely cost less for daily entertainment than visiting a major city where you plan to check out a new museum, play, and sporting event.

  • “Google” travel discounts! Search for the entertainment of your choice before buying anything. There are a lot of discounts to be found at places like cheaptickets.com and Goldstar.

  • Visit city websites. Many cities have dedicated resources to help you save. In New York check out the Explorer Pass; in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Pass; and in San Francisco, the CityPASS. These places often have newsletters you can sign up for to get additional discounts on your inaugural purchase.

Spending money

Plan to include an extra $150-$200 for gifts and souvenirs. Also, include an extra $100-$200 for tips.

  • Make sure the tip isn’t already included. Most AirBNB rentals include a cleaning fee in their upfront cost, so tipping for a cleaning service isn’t necessary. Some restaurants include the tip if your party is of a certain size, and some countries don’t even require tipping at all. Before you leave make sure you’re up-to-date on the tipping customs for where you will be staying.

  • Start a Vacation Savings Jar where you can place all your extra change at the end of the day. This is a great way to get excited about your upcoming trip, and a simple way to put that extra pocket change to good use. If you don’t frequently spend cash, consider automatically transferring a small amount of money to your savings account each time you receive your biweekly paycheck or monthly pension benefit.


Remember to also make the most of rewards points from credit cards, and consider the best way to pay for items (cash, credit card, traveler’s checks, etc.) since those types of fees can really add up. In the end, if you’ve saved up for your trip and have researched ways to save, you’ll have a much better time on your well-earned vacation.

¹ Allianz Travel Insurance, Vacation Confidence Index, 2017 

Sandeep Kaur